#1840 - Saturday, June 26, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1840 Saturday, June 26, 2004 Editor: Mark
A Salve Made with Dirt
I was a thorn rushing to be
with a rose, vinegar blending
with honey, a pot of poison turning
to healing salve, the pasty
wine-dregs thrown into whitewater.
I was a diseased eye reaching
for Jesus' robe, raw meat
cooking in the flame.
Then I found some dust
to make an ointment of
that would honor my soul,
and in mixing that,
I found poetry.
Love say, "You are right,
but don't claim those changes.
Remember, I am the wind.
You are an ember
- Ghazal (Ode) 1586 Version by Coleman Barks from Say I Am You, published by Maypop, 1994 and posted on Sunlight
- Image of MahaBodhi Temple in Bagan, Burma
(from an unpublished memoir)
"All that can be seen is nothing but a dream; And even when we think ourselves awake, We have only wakened in a dream."
My first wife and I both enjoyed exploration and discovery and, once we had established ourselves professionally, we were fortunate enough to be able to visit many parts of the planet that beckoned with the seductive lure of the exotic and culturally intriguing. In the late summer of 1980, we happened to be traveling through a remote seaside area of sweltering Indonesia. We had started our expedition that year in magical Bali, and were exploring our way up the peninsula to Bangkok. As we strolled along a beautiful beach one morning, we came upon an old women who invited us into her shack for a "bowl of mushroom soup". Now, having read in an "alternative" travel guide about some of the hallucinogenic concoctions one might encounter in this particular area, my curiosity was primed. Nevertheless, it had been almost a decade since my last experience with entheogens, courtesy of Radha. I was a bit hesitant, but accepted the old woman's invitation to step into her hut. Once in the shack, we immediately noticed a European man slumped at a table. He looked totally gone, as if something had reached in and scooped out his person, leaving only an empty husk. When I inquired what was up with him, the woman answered: "5 packets!"
Well, having spent the stranger part of a year living in the Haight- Ashbury, I had learned a thing or two about dosage and, feeling adventurous, I said that I would try 4 packets. My wife declined, offering to serve as the "control", or "designated driver". I reasoned that if I had already experienced some pretty powerful psyllocibin, acid, and mescaline, what could this bowl of soup show me that I had not already seen? Still, it might be interesting, from a cultural psycho- pharmacological perspective, of course. In other words: "What the hell!"
Yum! The bowl of soup was quite tasty and, after paying the woman, we continued our stroll down the beach. She just smiled rather enigmatically and waved us on. It seemed that nothing was "happening" and, just as I was about ready to chalk one up for another dumb tourista ploy, I looked at my wife, saw Kali, and dropped to my knees in such a fit of laughter that I was about to literally bust a gut! With my Catholic and subsequent Zen Buddhist background, I had no real attraction to Hinduism or any of its pantheon of deities beyond the exposure gained years ago during my time with Radha. I had long felt a keen heart-centered relationship to the Divine Feminine, but to encounter this archetypal vision incarnate right before me, in the incongruity of the current situation, seemed like the most hilarious thing imaginable. And yet -- why not?
"Why not, Bob?" She laughed right back at me!
Somehow, my wife eventually got me back to my feet (after quite a while, it seemed). She then maneuvered me over to some large boulders, where I leaned against a smooth slab, glanced up at the gorgeous Indonesian sky and saw, waving back at me from out of the blue, the entire Hindu Trinity (Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu)! I don't know how I knew it was them - I just knew (perhaps from pictures in some Hare Krishna book pawned off to me at an airport, or distant memories from Radha's apartment walls)!
I was transfixed for what seemed like ages as they proceeded to sing the whole magnificent "story" of the universe. This itself turned out to be somewhat paradoxical, since it was/is only a kind of ripple on Now. In one voice they "described" the perfect arc of my innumerable appearances and disappearances in space/time, as well as my "purpose", although that's not quite the right word for it really, since it was unmistakably evident that there has only ever been God - purposeless and still. This was all completely incomprehensible and paradoxical to mind, and yet it was all "so obvious" in my heart!
Well, I must say I was amazed!
At a certain point, my puzzled wife reminded me that we had better get going or we would miss the bus back to the city. I peeled myself off that rock slab (from which I had not moved in 7 hours, by her calculation), and we started back down the beach, only to eventually discover that we had missed the last bus back to Yogyacarta.
A few moments later, as we stood under a palm considering our non- existent options, a few local boys in a donkey cart rode out of the bushes, laughing and giggling. They offered us a ride, and I immediately accepted. In my relief, I had neglected to ask them where they were going, but sometimes those little details just don't seem to matter. I had an innate trust in the rightness of the situation and, though my wife was a bit wary, we hopped aboard. They must have been pre-teens by my reckoning, and the mutual amusement of our meeting had us all smiling and laughing for the first part of the trip. Gradually, we became engaged in a most interesting conversation about all sorts of things, which naturally evolved into a profound rumination on the Mystery of Her Play!
For example, I confided that there was still the lingering taste of the artificial, or dream-like construct of life -- a persistent sense of the "Let's pretend" game of existence. One of the boys replied: "The `taste' you speak of is nothing but the intimation of your own non-existence. When this is faced squarely, without recourse to belief, concept, or recoil into fantasies of identity, then something tends to reveal itself. `It' is nothing special. `It' is your own true nature." I replied: "I suppose this `intimation', as you call it, appears within everyone's life, but most spend their time trying to avoid it's implications." "It is not just `within' everyone's life," he laughed, "it IS everyone's life!" "And yet," I responded, "perhaps only a rare few really make it that far -- beyond the point of no return, so to speak." "Well, you probably realize by now that `you' can do nothing to `make it that far.' The `point of no return' is when that last ember snuffs out, leaving only ashes, and what is scattered along the trails of your former self-preoccupation are the final shreds of any hope to know or comprehend. It is called Grace, and it is Her Play, and you can only run into her Arms the moment She comes home to you!" "How would you suggest one invite such Grace?" I asked, not at all disconcerted that I was conversing with what appeared to be a ten year old, who apparently knew me as well as the Zen Masters I had studied with. "When She becomes more desirable than anything else in your life, the cry to Beloved to make Her Presence known will become such an incessant flow of tears that She will no longer be able to resist Her suitor. It may take the form of true inquiry, or perhaps urgent Bhakti, but it must blossom from the deepest yearning, beyond any hope or prayer, and it must root all the way down into the heart's core, where She resides on the Throne of the Love that you Are!"
The conversation continued on like this until nightfall, and only then did I realize that we had traveled quite a distance into the jungle. We had arrived at a small hut, set amidst the luxuriant foliage and primal sounds that kindled some ancient memory that had been hovering just out of mind's reach. The kids invited us in to their bamboo and thatch home, which seemed much bigger on the inside than it had originally appeared from outside. Although there was a lovely light radiating in the dwelling, it was impossible to trace its source to any fixture. My eyes were immediately drawn to a breathtaking batik, hanging on the wall above a small shrine, of Krishna and the Milkmaid Gopis in moonlit poses of loving peace and communion! My wife and I both fell instantly in love with it! Noticing our delight, the boys generously offered it to us at a nominal cost. At first we were reluctant to remove it from its idyllic setting, but they were insistent. They claimed that "it was made just for you". After sharing some very delicious and invigorating tea, they then offered us a ride to a stop where a late night bus traveled, and eventually we made it back to the city.
When we arrived at our hotel, my wife commented that what amazed her most about the day was that I had seemed to communicate so well with the boys, even though they had been speaking Indonesian the whole time, and I had been speaking English!
- Robert O'Hearn on AdyashantiSatsang
These trees have grown
from the earth
into the heavens
just like me when
I'm walking with you
Wherever they cast their shade
there they create a holy place
No matter how together
I think I am
love still tears me apart
every time I get lost
in your presence
Is the earth inhabited
or infested by humans?
A parasite once attached
cares nothing about
the well being of its host
A home maker takes care
of its home as best it can
learning how by spontaneous
& sober observation
of things as they are
Everywhere we're hiding the truth
there we are a lie
All things are beings of light
There's nothing that has
nothing to teach
This bit of light has been traveling
for hundreds of years
over millions of miles
through the cold darkness
of endless space
from a distant star
I can barely make out
& the only thing
it's touched is my eye
- Steve Toth on SufuMystic
- Image of Dhammayangyi Temple in Bagan, Burma
Sometimes indeed it seems that a lot of the people with perspectives on "enlightenment" seem to hold "disdain" and invalidation of the human experience. For me awareness is not meant to be viewed as an intellectual/philosophical/theoretical/spiritual escape from human experience seen as something so "low" ...i feel when it is true it includes everything with an honouring, welcoming, seeing the innocence, acknowledging whatever the truth is of the person/situation including perhaps suffering. It's like someone writes "i'm depressed" so others jump in and say smart things like "show me who is depressed", "there is no one to be depressed", (now simple human) "don't you know that all there is is love" etc. Sometimes all they need is "yeah, and doesn't depression suck?" By truly being present then it may shift or not depending on what is unfolding. i continue to call for an egalitarian awakening world but then i contradict myself as i place accepting "all" over elitism and therefore separating stuff anyway.what can i say...
actually i just saw something. perhaps this is why the quest to be special/holy/enlightened/awake is inevitably defeating. it will always separate. if we truly want to be fully aware we can't hold out for the buddha or ramana, we need to hold out for the plainest simplest most ordinary real person...only when we can truly bring every last one of us into this will we be free. by virtue of exclusion on any basis, we cannot claim true wholeness what is true wholeness?
as i hold this in heart, using this other perception, it all folds in on itself, at the same time opening like wings and i hear among this wordlessness all IS accepted here nothing is left out it is all held in this soft quietness more merciful than mercy absolutely everything has this grace
Josie Kane on NDS
"So," she smiled, "you want to ask me about the book."
"Yes - that, and more!" I was overflowing with things I wanted to
say, to ask, to sing!
"All we really want to talk about is God, hmmm?" She began. "So,
This very world is utterly Perfect and Complete.
There is nothing to gain or to lose.
Nothing can be added or taken away.
Each traffic light is the winking eye of God.
Each soft breeze rustling leaves is Her laughing Play.
The synchronous magic in which we appear is the obvious trick of the
Every movement is perfectly timed to celebrate the Mystery of Being.
There is nothing to do that is not already always being masterfully
This is it. This is it! Don't you just love it?
Every sigh, every breath, every beat of heart is the precise
manifestation of Divinity.
Every molecule revolves in heavenly orbit, shot through and through
with a stupendous Joy, amazed at the very appearance of Itself as
this infinitely reflecting net of jewels.
There is truly no up or down, no in or out. No going forward or
backward. No letting go, no sad regret. This is our destiny and our
very present condition - Grace beyond measure.
This is it. This is it! Won't you just love it?
This body here is the incarnation of a Love Supreme.
This mind the murmur of Heart Fire.
Love calls to Itself.
Children of Love emerge from this ecstatic Embrace.
How rare and precious is this birth!
The math is simple and marvelous -- Wonder begets Wonder!
How fortunate indeed to awaken to the birthright of our own Truth!
Words cannot express this! We are speechless in this Glory shining
in, as, and through us!
We swim in a sea of Holy Water, and every blink of our watery eyes
initiates a universe.
Every little twitch of our fingers conducts a symphony of immense
Delight. Every glance is the
Glance of the ultimate Lover, through Whose Eyes all are blessed,
healed, given and taken.
Sanctified. Beyond any need for redemption or forgiveness. Each
moment. Each particle of
Light swirling in the wind of our own breath.
This Breath! This Breath! Birthing all beings.
Blessing all beings! Yes! Delight!
I took her hand in mine and placed it to my lips, and she did so with
mine, and then together we sat in silence as the morning sun
smothered us in warm bight light. I felt as if I never wanted to
leave this place beside her, and she turned to me then and simply
smiled, as if to say: "We have never been divisible."
- short excerpt from a series of posts by Robert O'Hearn on nondualerotica
- Image of sun setting behind temples in Bagan, Burma